The healthcare system in small towns and villages of Uttar Pradesh is at the mercy of God, the Allahabad High Court said on Monday, Live Law reported.

A bench comprising Justices Justices Siddharth Verma and Ajit Kumar was hearing a public interest litigation related to the spread of the coronavirus in the state. It took note of an incident where the body of a man admitted to the isolation ward of a hospital was disposed off as that of an unidentified person.

The man had fainted in the hospital’s bathroom last month. The staff tried to revive him but he died. They failed to identify him or locate his file, according to PTI. Then, the hospital staff put the man’s body in a bag and disposed it. A three-member committee had been formed to investigate the incident, NDTV reported.

The court said that if this was the situation at hospitals in cities such as Meerut, the health infrastructure in villages may be worse. “The entire medical system of the state pertaining to the smaller cities and villages can only be taken to be like a famous Hindi saying ‘Ram Bharose’ [at God’s mercy],” the judges said.

Justices Siddharth Verma and Ajit Kumar also rebuked the doctors at the hospital. They said:

“A patient is admitted to the hospital in an absolute care of doctors and paramedical staff and if the doctors and paramedical staff adopt such casual approach and show carelessness in the performance of their duty, then it is a case of serious misconduct because it is something like playing with the lives of innocent people.”

— Allahabad High Court (Source: Live Law)

Also read: Coronavirus: UP prepared to face third wave, says Chief Minister Adityanath

The court noted that the condition of medical care in Uttar Pradesh was “fragile and debilitated”, according to NDTV. “When it [the health infrastructure] cannot meet the medical requirements of our people in normal times, it definitely had to collapse in the face of the present pandemic.”

The court also studied a report submitted by officials of five districts. “We have no hesitation in observing that health infrastructure is absolutely insufficient in city areas to meet the requirement of city population and in the rural areas the community health centres are virtually lacking in respect of life-saving gadgets,” it said, according to PTI.

The Allahabad High Court made certain suggestions to improve healthcare facilities in the state. It said that each hospital with more than 30 beds should compulsorily have an oxygen generation plant. It added that each second and third tier town in Uttar Pradesh should be given at least 20 ambulances with intensive care unit facilities. For villages, it suggested at least two ambulances.

For vaccination, the court suggested that businesses that obtain tax benefits by donating money to religious organisation should be asked to divert their funds for doses.

Even as several reports showed healthcare in Uttar Pradesh crumbling, Chief Minister Adityanath on Sunday claimed that the state was prepared to tackle the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic “as and when it comes”.

The UP government has been criticised for the way it is handling the coronavirus crisis. The state government had earlier threatened legal action against those “spreading rumours” about its Covid mismanagement and has filed cases in some instances.

Besides this, over the last few days, thousands of corpses of suspected coronavirus patients have been spotted either floating in the Ganga river or buried along river banks in the state, as well as in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.

Uttar Pradesh recorded 9,391 new coronavirus cases on Monday, taking the total count of infections to 16,28,990 since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. The state’s toll rose by 285 to 17,817, according to PTI.